All hail Ed the conquering hero
"IF you're too cool to sing, you're at the wrong gig," bellowed Ed Sheeran from the stage just one song into his set at Plymouth Pavilions on Monday night as he made it quite clear full audience participation was required.
Seldom have I seen a more authoritative start to a solo show.
Looking more like the scruffy boy next door than the all-conquering hero he is, Ed bounced on stage and instantly asserted his authority with a strident sing-along opener which got the entire 4,000 on side.
And just in case anyone was wondering how one bloke and a guitar was going to keep everyone entertained for an hour and three quarters, a machine gun effect fire of acoustic guitar-work several minutes into Give Me Love and we were in absolutely no doubt.
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Sadly, he was less successful at getting some to keep quiet in a couple of the more intimate numbers as a few ignorant individuals insisted on hearing their own rowdy vocals rather than the one on stage they'd paid to see.
But that was a minor irritant in an otherwise hugely enjoyable and entertaining performance in which Ed showcased his phenomenal ability to blend acoustic soul, hip hop, folk and even jazz as a stunning performance of a Nina Simone track with the 4,000-strong "Plymouth Gospel choir" on backing vocals proved later in the proceedings.
In fact Ed is a sort of contemporary one-man band, achieving his incredibly full-on sound with use of loop pedals, as he explained to us, thereby introducing bass and snare drum as well as guitar, and looping his own harmonies into the mix, so that at times he could even put his guitar down and leap around as if accompanied by a full band.
Add to this one of the most ingenious lightshows I've ever seen – radiating from a pile of giant luminous building blocks behind, which served to shrink the stage and give the whole event a more dynamic yet intimate effect – and the whole thing was nothing short of spectacular.
The songs were all present and correct, most of the audience seemed word and note perfect and sang along throughout, and he ended inevitably with the big ones; a superb extended version of Lego House, closing with a real tear jerker rendition of A Team with appropriate imagery on the building blocks behind.
I confess that before seeing him live I had thought Ed was a tad overrated.
On Monday night's showing he was nothing short of brilliant.